I have recently been pondering a question every time that I buy food for my bird feeders.

 

Is it cheaper to buy bird food online or locally from a store?

 

Personally, I love supporting local businesses with my money. But it’s also incredibly convenient to buy birdseed online from Amazon at 11 pm on Sunday night while in my pajamas drinking bourbon.

 

I am in my early thirties, a “millennial” and a little biased toward thinking buying anything online is going to be cheaper than going to a local store. But I always feel a twinge of guilt when ordering things on the Internet because I prefer that my money stays in our community.

 

It was time to run a series of experiments to find the cheapest place to buy bird food and birdseed.

 

cheapest place to buy bird food

 

Here is what I did:

 

I visited six local stores, which included everything from pet stores to grocery stores to hardware stores, to compare the price in the store vs. the price I could find online.

 

I had a few guidelines that I followed while conducting this experiment:

 

1. To make a proper comparison, the brand of the bird food had to be the same. It’s unfair to compare sunflower seed from Company A at a local store vs. sunflower seed from Company B online. The quality of birdseed can differ significantly from company to company, depending on how and where it was harvested.

 

2. The bag size of the bird food had to be the same. So if I found a 25-pound bag of black oil sunflower from Company A at my local hardware store, then it had to be compared against the same 25-pound bag from Company A online.

 

3. To compare in-store prices against the prices available online, I tried to use Amazon whenever possible. This is because most people think of Amazon first when trying to find the lowest prices available online. I thought it best to compare local prices against the Internets biggest giant! Also, Amazon typically has free shipping, which I love.

 

One last thing before we dig into the 9 case studies below:

 

Prices constantly change! The prices you see below are what they were the day this article was published. I intend to keep this article updated periodically, but reader and buyer beware! I will include links where applicable to check the current online prices.

 

Are you ready???

 


Case Study # 1: Black Oil Sunflower Seed

 

I thought it would be best to start with black oil sunflower seed because it’s the most popular and common bird food offered in feeders.

 

I found this 10-pound bag of Audubon Park black oil sunflower seed at my local grocery store.

 

best prices to buy bird food

 

In case you can’t see the price tag below, purchasing at the grocery store would cost $9.99.

 

A quick search on Amazon shows that buying the same 10-pound bag cost $20.34.  View Current Price

 

Wow! I was a bit shocked to see that buying locally from my grocery store (of all places!) was half the cost of purchasing online.

 

We have a clear winner from the first case study!

 

Buying Local = 1 , Buying Online = 0

 

 


Case Study #2: Sunflower Hearts/Chips

 

For the second test, we are going to stay at the same grocery store and use the same brand.

 

But this time let’s take a look at sunflower hearts and chips.

 

cheapest place to buy bird food

 

Audubon Park Sunflower Chips (5 lbs)

 

Grocery Store: $11.99

 

Amazon: $23.40  Check Current Price

 

Incredible! That’s a savings of almost 50%. Buying local has jumped out to an early lead.

 

Buying Local = 2 , Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #3: Safflower Seed

 

This case study will feature safflower purchased from my local pet store, Pet Supplies Plus.

 

best price bird food

 

Kaytee Safflower Seed (5lbs)

 

Pet Store: $8.98

 

Amazon: $13.50  Check Current Price

 

Once again, buying local saves a significant amount of money (33%).

 

Buying Local = 3, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #4: Nyjer Seed

 

I went to the closest Home Depot to check out their bird food selection. One of the products they carried was a 10-pound bag of Wagner’s nyjer seed. This caught my eye because I know for a fact that I have ordered the 5-pound bag on Amazon before.

 

cheapest price bird food

 

Wagner’s Nyjer Seed (10 lbs)

 

Home Depot: $18.98

 

Amazon: $21.98  Check Current Price

 

Buying local wins again and saves about 14%. At least these prices were similar, unlike the first 3 case studies.

 

Buying Local = 4, Buying Online = 0

 

 


Case Study #5: Nyjer Seed Finch Socks

 

While at Pet Supplies Plus, I noticed they carried these Kaytee Finch Socks. I have ordered this twin pack from Amazon before, so I was excited to compare prices.

 

where to buy birdseed?

 

Kaytee Nyjer Seed Finch Sock (Twin Pack)

 

Pet Store: $7.98

 

Amazon: $12.03  Check Current Price

 

This competition is quickly turning into a blowout. (~33% savings buying local)

 

Buying Local = 5, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #6: Peanuts

 

To be honest, the inspiration for this post came while shopping at Sam’s Club. I was there on my lunch break purchasing diapers when I came across the below 5-pound bag of peanuts from Hampton Farms.

 

What blew me away was that a 5-pound bag only cost $5.68. For the past few months, I have been buying this EXACT bag on Amazon to feed the Blue Jay’s in my backyard, and I knew that it has been costing me significantly more!

 

lowest price for seeds for birds

 

Hampton Farms Peanuts (5 lb)

 

Sam’s Club: $5.68

 

Amazon: $16.98     Check Current Price

 

What a huge price difference (67%)! Seriously, this enormous discrepancy is what initially got me curious about what was cheaper, buying local or online.

 

Buying Local = 6, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #7: Mealworms

 

My backyard birds love when I put mealworms out as a treat and will quickly eat them all!

 

And since mealworms seem to be the most expensive bird food by weight, I was very interested to find the cheapest place to buy them.

 

I have been purchasing freeze-dried mealworms on Amazon, assuming this must be the cheapest place to buy. To compare prices, I was able to find the same brand and size that I typically purchase on Amazon at the pet store.

 

cheapest bird food

 

Kaytee Mealworms (7-Ounce)

 

Pet Store: $6.98

 

Amazon: $9.20   Check Current Price

 

Buying from a store saves 25% on mealworms.

 

Buying Local = 7, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #8: General Bird Seed Mix

 

The last two case studies will feature two general bird seed mixes from different retailers.

 

This first one is the Kaytee Songbird blend (5 lbs). I found this at another local pet store (Pet’s Mart).

 

lowest price and cheapest bird seed

 

Kaytee Songbird Blend (5 lbs)

 

Pet Store: $9.99

 

Amazon: $17.60   Check Current Price

 

Another case study with the same result. Buying locally would save about 43% instead of buying this birdseed blend online.

 

Buying Local = 8, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #9: General Bird Seed Mix

 

To finish this experiment, I decided to head to Wild Birds Unlimited. They are a national franchise that specializes in bird feeding products, seeds, and foods.

 

Below is there popular “No-Mess Plus Blend” that features sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, and a few other foods that don’t have shells.

 

where should I buy bird food from?

 

Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Plus Blend (20 lbs)

 

Local WBU Store: $45.99 (it’s only $39.09 if you are part of their discount club)

 

WBU.com: $48.99 (plus ~$15.00 for shipping!)   Check Today's Price 

 

Once again, it’s cheaper to buy at the local store instead of ordering online. These results were similar for all the other bird foods that Wild Birds Unlimited offers (sunflower, nyjer, suet, etc.).

 

Buying Local = 9, Buying Online = 0

 


Related Articles:

The 14 Best Bird Feeders For Your Backyard

50+ Unique and Fun Birdwatching Gifts


Takeaways and Observations:

 

To be honest, the results of this experiment blew me away!

 

Out of the 9 case studies that were performed, it was always cheapest to buy bird seed or food from a local retailer.

Buying from a local store saved an average of over 50%!

 

I am guilty of having a prejudice that buying online was cheaper than heading to a store. I know this is true of other products, but the trend does not seem to apply to bird seed and food.

 

Could it be that the weight of bird food prevents cheap shipping? And does that cost have to be passed to the consumer online?

where should I buy bird seed from?

 

This may be part of the reason for heavier bags of seed. But it just can’t be true for lower weight items such as mealworms or finch socks.

 

Like many other people, I have become addicted to ordering products on Amazon. The free 2-day shipping offered by their Prime membership is incredibly convenient, especially now that we have two young children and going to the store has become increasingly difficult.

 

But part of my preference for ordering on Amazon was because of my (false) assumption that it was also CHEAPER. This experiment has me re-thinking about where we are going to shop, not only for bird food but many other products.

 

It could not have been more clear:

 

Buying bird food from a local store is significantly cheaper than buying online!

 


Questions for you:

 

Here is where I need your help.

 

The results of my experiment were clear. But I live in Akron, Ohio. I’m sure that prices differ all across the United States and the world.

 

  • Where is the best and least expensive place to buy bird food where you live?
    • Please make sure to share if you live outside the United States!

 

  • Is there a cheaper website than Amazon to order bird seed online?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Scott

 

39 responses to “Cheapest Place To Buy Bird Food? Online vs Retail! (9 Case Studies)”

  1. Sarah says:

    Here’s my question: I got here by beginning this kind of research but what started is that the discarded seed is growing weeds and my husband is not a fan. I know you can buy no mess varieties but they seem so much more expensive. Do they last longer because there’s less waster thus justifying the cost? Or is there any other way I can reduce the weed situation so that I can keep this affordable. My birds will empty the feeders every 2 days.

  2. MaryC says:

    Tractor Supply Company 35 pound bag $9.99. Ordered online, ready for pickup in 30 minutes. Can’t beat it.

  3. Rick says:

    Thanks Scott for peaking my curiosity. Shopping can get crazy with all the choices and you are right when it comes to “which brand” For example, I buy meal worms on-line through Amazon because I can buy a 5 pound bag way cheaper that a bunch of 7 oz bags (*https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MJJQFDC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?tag=birdwatchingh-20&ie=UTF8&psc=1) $28.88 for 5 pounds is a pretty good deal and no local store sells this size so the bulk purchase makes it a no brainer. I tried Costco for their mixed blend and while it is cheaper my birds don’t like it so it has no value. Two years ago my local Costco sold Kaytee Blend that was awesome but they no longer carry it so back to shopping around.

  4. April Sipp says:

    Great post & thank you for sharing! I’ve been a shopaholic on Amazon for years & am shock by your research. And I also recently discovered Sam’s 5 pound unsalted peanuts @$5.88 & online it’s free delivery with my membership. And with 4.7 out of 5 star rating, I chose to orderer Sam’s 40 lbs Supreme Blend Wild Bird Food @ $19.98 with my free membership shipping. I hope my bird friends like this mix!

  5. Susan Alukonis says:

    OMG I love you for suggesting this site. Haven’t ordered yet but looks fantastic. I have been buying mixed seed at Costco – cheap and clean, but the wrong type for most of the birds we get so they shovel it out from the feeders and leave it for the squirrels. The local wild bird place is much better seed and choices, but too expensive for me.

  6. Nanook says:

    Kudos, Pamela! What a generous steward you are!

  7. Pamela W McKenna says:

    I go to my local Tractor Supply here in Vermont. We have extremely high prices here in the Northeast and I live an hour from everywhere, but TS is about 50% less than online, so I just purchase 100# at a time so I only buy once a month.
    We have 4 feeders as well as a raised covered feed area that is 3 feet wide x 10 feet long because we are the only feeders 1 mile radius (because we have no neighbors). I love our blue jay population!! 🙂

  8. Nanook says:

    Hi Monique. Very good of you to be thinking of the birds in your area! Something I’ve been doing is making my own seed cakes. The birds (& squirrels!) love peanut butter (& coconut oil is fine for them, too) as the base instead of beef suet. To save $ you can buy plain, unadulterated peanuts & grind in a processor (or any device like a high speed blender/ Vitamix), melt that & pour over broken sunflower seeds, millet, etc or general bird seed. (Look online for a variety of ingredients you can use). Then pour in a ‘mold’ you can fix in some kind of ‘cage’. Just don’t use a plastic netting. They’ll get entangled in that. Then, re: hummingbirds, make your own sugar syrup vs buying. It’s MUCH cheaper & leaves out the unnecessary dye. 1:3 cups of sugar:water in colder weather or if they’re migrating, 1:4 concentration otherwise. Dissolve the sugar over the stove until it’s turned syrupy. Refrigerate unused portions until you need it. I’ve discovered they like organic sugar better (I find it cheapest at Costco….and at least here in Oregon it’s now on sale until 3/8/20). Other birds will drink this, too, once they discover it. I place at least 1 hummingbird feeder near a branch or some perch where other birds can easily reach the portals. It’s a real treat for all of them, not just the hummers. Also, try popped popcorn. They went crazy for it for awhile but aren’t as interested as before (don’t ask me why).
    If you look online for all the different foods they’ll eat, maybe you can find a place local to you that’ll let you have discounted/free fruit if you tell them what you’re using it for. I know Costco in some locations donate food towards animal feed. Berries & melons are some fruits they like. I’m always trying to find ways to save $, too, because I seem to be the only one with bird feeders in my neighborhood & they flock here. I’ve even gotten osprey cking things out…but they leave once they see there’s no meat! Good luck!

  9. Monique Quigley says:

    In the Los Angeles / Ventura area I have found that Costco has by far the least expensive bird seed at $6.59 for 20 lbs. Since my house and most of the surrounding area burned down last year in the Woolsey fire the birds are really in need of food. I have 4 large bird feeders and they are going through them in less then 2 day’s. I wish I could find a less expensive food, I just don’t have the heart to stop feeding. Does anyone know of plants that I can grow to offset the price of the feed? I also have 2 humming bird feeders but that’s not a problem, just a joy to watch them!!
    Monique

  10. Wendie says:

    I live in the portage lakes area of Ohio and I get my bird seed mixed seed at Ace,good prices and good sales and I also get cute there,you can catch it on sale for .79 cents. Get nyjer at pet supply plus in bulk.

  11. Julia Brammer says:

    I have read through the comments and nobody named Rural King
    I can usually get a 40-pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds for $12.99 !!!
    Maybe Rural King stores are only in certain areas of the country. I know they are in Ohio and West Virginia.

  12. Tom says:

    Yes, in general I have found Amazon to be substantially higher on some products.
    I Buy and use about 40 lbs a week of black oil sunflower seed, so naturally I shop for the best prices. For me in Mass. (Costco doesn’t carry it) I buy it primarily at Lowes or Walmart. Walmart being the lest expensive at $17.76 for 40 lb bag. While Lowes comes close using my 10% veterans discount. Another one that I use occasionally is Ocean State Job Lot, when they have their 50 lb bags on sale it equates to about the same price per lb.
    Been researching mail order delivery and so far have found Walmart best with free delivery on 50 lb bags only when you spend $29 or more. Price a bit higher at $26, equates to $20.80 for 40 lbs., delivered to your door.

  13. Nanook of the PacificNorthwest says:

    On the west coast there’s a discount grocery store chain called Winco. In pricing around at other local stores (including feed stores) & online, I’ve found that my best bet is to boost a bag of bird food I bought on sale with Winco’s bulk sunflower seeds, shelled p-nuts & thistle and misc like dried fruits. I experiment by also buying bulk wheat berries & corn meal (the larger, coarser) to see if they’ll eat or waste it. I haven’t found a good place for millet yet, tho. And I just wish I could find safflower seed somewhere. I can’t even find it in feed stores. Isn’t this a regular feed for farm animals? Our 1 staple feed store in town is waaaay too overpriced! Maybe the other feed store 15 mi away might have what the local one doesn’t AND hopefully cheaper. I’ll call them before burning up gas to find out. Once I figure out my best sources & options, I’ll blend my own. I hate buying the packaged seed with that red seed (milo?) that most birds turn their beaks up at, tossing it to the ground, making a mess.
    So! my tip is to check at your cheapest bulk section (grocery store or wherever) & buy what you can to boost what you may already have on hand.

  14. Jerry Lukas says:

    thank you Scott for such a comprehensive investigation and I just threw up on my Amazon gift card !!!

    WOW!!!! I am a total Amazon freak, but you change my mind dramatically!!

    also, I left out loud to hear your comment about the bourbon !!!

    Great job – thanks for all the input

    do you have other similar postings?

    Jerry Lukas

  15. Greg says:

    Hi, I’m in the akron-canton, area,work in Akron and live in Jackson township

    If I was to want the most feed for the best price, where would you recommend me start and which feed. I just getting back into using a feeder. But , don’t want to spend a lot, I’m willing to buy bulk of need be. I do have a Sam’s club membership. If that helps. I don’t think full peanut would fit it. But I haven’t gotten the bird feeder yet.

    Thanks a lot,

    Greg

  16. Greg says:

    It sounds like you buy many of the same things as me. I load up on the Pennington sunflower chips when they are in stock at Walmart. I always get my mealworms from Amazon and have bought the Hatortemp and several others numerous times. I used to get Pennington black oil sunflower seeds from Walmart but the last couple of bags were LOADED with sticks and other debris so I bought a few bags from Tractor Supply and they were also dirty. Both ended up clogging up my squirrel buster feeders. Maybe I will order from Lowe’s next. I also get the C&S Suet nuggets from Home Depot or Walmart and I get the suet blocks from Tractor Supply. If there are any Southern States near you their millet is way cheaper there than anywhere else. The last time I bought safflower seeds was from Home Depot but Tractor Supply is where I usually get them. I buy my peanuts from Amazon and get the Lyric 5 lb bags utilizing subscribe & save. For some reason getting three 5 lb bags is cheaper than one 15 lb bag (although this does change). Another item I frequently get is the Lyric Fruit and Nut 20 lb bags from Amazon which is also eligible for subscribe & save. Nyjer I I usually get from Tractor Supply but I think I bought my last bag at Walmart. I spend way too much money on this stuff.

  17. DC McNeilly says:

    Can’t believe some of the prices people are paying! Forty-five dollars for 20 lbs. are you serious. Costco in New Mexico, Native American Premium Wild Bird Food, 50 lbs. for $10.99! Tractor Supply also has a 50 lb but it’s $20 and very dusty.

  18. Barb says:

    You are right! Thank you!! Even with shipping (got my total 70lb order of seeds for $5 UPS shipping), I am getting a better deal than either Amazon or buying local fr many seeds. Safflower is currently on sale at $9.99 for a 10lb bag if you go to their current ad. I have been paying $1.60 a pound for a 5lb bag via Prime. Whole corn is pretty cheap, too, at $0.65lb.

  19. cindy says:

    We get 40# bags of black oil sunflower from Lowe’s, runs around 20 bucks. Sunflower chips from Walmart, 5.5 lbs for 6.50. Suet from Walmart runs around a dollar apiece. Now, the mealworms I do buy online from Amazon as it’s the cheapest I’ve found, Hatortemp 5 lbs for $24.

  20. Sam says:

    Try here: https://www.countrymax.com/bulk/
    As noted, shipping can climb if ordering a lot but I’ve found that you can’t beat the bulk pricing CountryMax offers.

  21. Jeanne Vaughn says:

    I buy my 20 lb bags of birdseed from True Value. It’s close and cheap

  22. Barb says:

    i buy a lot from Amazon via links on your site. But, I do buy a 40lb bag of Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower seeds at Home Depot for $20.48.I store it in my garage in a garbage can, lol. Also, I buy mealworms in bulk… a 5lb bag for $24.99. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MJJQFDC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I also buy 5lb bag of Wagners Safflower seeds for around $6 on Amazon ( I usually get 2 at a time)…….. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004477AOO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I always look for better deals. I guess it’s the convenience of free shipping from Amazon Prime that lures me in. Sometimes, I just don’t have the time to drive to 6 different places to get what I want.

    Walmart or the local co-op run good deals on cracked corn in bulk but I have found that many times, you have to wait at least a month for the order. However, the cracked corn link you have is the better price.

    I live in Knoxville, TN.

  23. Deborah Ferra Sines says:

    I live in Perry Ohio and the Tractor Supply is by far the cheapest for good quality bird seed!

  24. Sarahkate says:

    I am in western Oregon and new to feeding wild birds on my small farm (and still seeking the most affordable binocs that are usable for people with shaky hands!). We have a chain store in the Pacific NW called Bi-Mart which has a $5 lifetime membership and THE most amazing discounts on everything from farm supplies (including all types of wild and domestic bird food) to cookware and all types of household supplies and electronics and canned/packaged human foods. Bi-Mart is the only store locally where I’ve found the Audubon “Trail Mix” which seems to attract the most varieties of birds. I formerly fed a locally packaged and very affordable “critter crunch” which kept both the birds and the squirrels very happy but unfortunately tended to attract possum which I really, really do not want in my yard – they can stay in the old barn at the far end of the property, thank you very much. If you are in the Pacific NW I highly recommend Bi-Mart for their reasonable everyday pricing on a good variety of bird food as well as really good and very frequent sales.

  25. Marie says:

    I’m in Ohio & I’ve found the local grain elevator or co-op, if they sell it, have the best prices. I order online for free pick-up & they load it into the car. The variety of brands may be limited but the quality is good. Previously, Menards was my choice for variety & price and is still the best price on suet cakes. The Wildlife Sciences case of 10 is $6.90 & I’ve bought them for $3.90 on sale.
    The birds like them & I go thru quite a few cases with only 2 of those simple green suet feeders.
    Just started feeding & watching last year.

    • Scott says:

      They built a Menards in Cuyahoga Falls over the past year and I get a lot of food there now because it’s so close to the house. Thanks for sharing!

  26. nicole wolf gilbert says:

    thank you for doing all this research….I’m in Maine but I’m betting it’s no different here!

    • Scott says:

      You’re welcome! I find this is still very true today, much cheaper to buy at local stores, more convenient to buy and shipped to my house.

  27. ML says:

    Love this page! Thanks so much for sharing your research. I haven’t fed the wild birds in quite some time but really do like seeing them in the backyard so I’m trying to get back into it. Literally decades ago I had a place nearby in an industrial park that was reasonably priced but I haven’t surfaced them in any searches yet. I order petfood from Chewy.com so I’ll compare their wild birdseed with Walmart. Sam’s sells the unshelled peanuts for $5 or $6 so it’s nice to know that I’m getting a great price buying from them.

  28. Gary says:

    Chewy has a fair assortment.
    The convenience is outstanding, as is turnaround time.

    • Scott says:

      Hey Gary. Thanks for sharing. I had heard of Chewy.com but never ordered anything. I just tried them out thanks to your advice. Prices seem very reasonable!

  29. Susan says:

    Walmart is a good place for birdseed at decent prices. Here in northern Virginia there’s a good selection and you can order online for free pickup if it’s not stocked. Pennington 7lb safflower seed is $9.99. Think there’s a 5lb for $7.99 also. Starlings have been mobbing my feeder so happy to find this info. Hope it deters them!
    Thanks.

    • Scott says:

      Did you have any luck with the safflower seed? I have never tried Wal-Mart for seed, but a Menards recently opened near us and I have been finding competitive prices there.

  30. Chaya Appel says:

    this is fascinating. I recently got a bird feeder. Since their aren’t any bird shops really local (brooklyn, NY) I was relying on Amazon, but now that I’m seeing this I’m thinking it may be worth a trip to get seed if it’s so much cheaper.

  31. Lori Cohen says:

    Hi Scott,

    I appreciate the info! I’m in Dayton and shop at Kroger but I am going to compare what you have and see how similar prices are. I’ve been looking for bulk peanuts so I’ll have to give Sam’s/ Costco a try. Will post any interesting findings! Thanks again!

  32. Jay says:

    Is this a slam Amazon blog? You did not state the local bird food store you visited and my own search could not find local prices even close to your quotes. Doesn’t seem very accurate.

    • Scott says:

      Actually, I love Amazon! But in my limited test, it was not the cheapest place to buy bird food (but is most convenient). Just curious, which specific product did I mention that you found cheaper on Amazon vs. in the store? Which store? Also, the grocery store that I visited was Giant Eagle. This is a regional grocery chain in the midwest so I didn’t think it was relevant to include the name since it does not apply to most of the country or international visitors. Thanks for reading!

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